Two weeks ago, I shared our strategy for taking our first-ever cross-country flight with our 22-month old twins. We had a plan, but as prepared as I was, I was still terrified. I had no idea how it was going to go. Would I have 2 screaming babies for 7 hours?
Everyone told me that it didn’t matter. It is what it is. You can do anything for 7 hours? Babies cry. I knew that no matter what happened, there was little I could do about it, but that didn’t help the anxiety.
Well, we’re back from our vacation and we survived. Well, actually, that’s not quite fair. We didn’t have to survive. The girls were angels. I’m not exaggerating. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more easy cross-country flight. Maybe it was luck and after one trip (4 legs) I’m certainly no expert, but here’s what we did that worked.
I had done a bit of research on changing time zones with babies and learned that the first 24 hours can be hard, but are crucial. Our plan was to get the girls on their new schedule in the new time zone starting with their first nap that day. I had to book strategically in order to make this happen. We opted to leave really early, which was a little risky (we had to wake the girls before their normal wake time), but got us to our destination in time for their first nap in the new time zone. They both slept on the plane (daddy did too), but they went down for the nap without issue. Traveling is exhausting!
We had a lot of ideas, snacks, books and toys at the ready for occupying the girls in-flight (you can read more about our prep HERE), but the most affective tool ended up being our phones (sigh). We had purchased these toddler headphones and downloaded a nursery rhyme TV show from iTunes and between that, a nursery rhyme playlist on Spotify and our respective iPhone photo albums, the girls were happy the entire flight. They colored and ate a ton of snacks, but for the most part, they just listened to music with their new headphones. My children, sitting calmly in my lap…that hasn’t happened since they were infants. It was a dream.
Non-stop flights aren’t really an option for us because of where we live, but I think layovers are ideal when traveling with toddlers anyway. 6-7 hours on a plane is asking a lot from a baby. We have a few options when flying east to west and vice versa, but the more affordable layovers were in Charlotte and Atlanta. This wasn’t very helpful because it only cut the trip into a 1-hour and then 5-hour section. So, we paid a little extra to make sure we had a layover in Dallas, which is almost exactly halfway. This allowed both us and the girls a small break and broke our trip up into two 3-hour sections.
During the layover, we let the girls run (literally RUN — Jeremiah made them run sprints in the terminal) and play in the airport. We tried to keep them somewhat contained and in less busy terminals, but if I’m being honest, I was a little more lenient with their behavior during this time. Sorry I’m not sorry to the old lady giving me looks at Gate B31.
Here are a few other things you should know:
- Only 1 lap infant is allowed in each row, so if you’re traveling with twins, you can’t sit together. This is because there is only 1 additional air mask in each row.
- Confirmed seats mean nothing. Call to confirm before your flight and check again at the airport. Airlines are notorious for moving people around.
- Rental car companies charge an arm and a leg for car seats, so bring your own. They count as free checked baggage. Make sure to put them in a heavy-duty clear trash bag (THESE work great) with an address label adhered to the front.
- Speaking of FREE checked baggage. Each ticketed passenger can check a car seat and stroller for FREE!
- Read the rules for Traveling with Children on the TSAs website before you go. They may not know the all the rules about breast milk (you can carry it on) and birth certificates (you don’t need them for children under the age of 2), so arm yourself before you go.
How do you travel with toddlers?